JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — A sea of his fans dressed in black-and-green racing apparel adorned with the locally famous “111” graphics on them filled victory lane Thursday night at Stateline Speedway.
Track champion Max Blair had just swept the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series feature at the track.
Blair turned the quickest lap of 27 cars during qualifying, won his heat and led every lap of the feature for his second series victory, beating Darrell Lanigan and Dave Hess to the checkered flag.
“This isn’t just the cherry on top, this is the whole sundae,” Blair said of the win and how it sits alongside his 40 other Feature victories behind the wheel of a Late Model this season.
Blair jumped out to the lead right away and ran into lapped traffic inside of the first 15 laps. He swiftly weaved in-and-out of the slower cars, using both lanes, even threading the needle in between two cars at one point. All in an effort to escape the pressure coming from the stiff competition behind him.
“My [crew] guys were telling me that we were getting away [from the field] and I kind of started riding,” Blair said. “But then I got to those lapped cars, and boy, I couldn’t get around a couple of them for a long time. I looked back up at my guys and they were telling me Lanigan was catching me, and I was getting nervous, let’s put it that way.”
The race’s only caution flag flew with 28 circuits remaining for David Scott, who blew a right-rear tire and came to a stop in turn one. This erased Blair’s comfortable lead in lapped traffic and restacked the field, placing the hard-charging Lanigan right on the No. 111’s rear bumper.
A great restart by Blair gave him the advantage he needed to keep the field at bay. But lapped traffic reared its challenging head again with just 12 laps left.
After running much of the race in the preferred low groove, Blair shot up high in his first attempt to get around the second wave of slower cars but was met with heavy resistance as Lanigan closed the gap. Less than a car length separated the two as they dove into turn one with 11 laps remaining.
“The lapped cars helped me get caught up there, but once Max cleared them, I knew he was going to be hard to pass,” Lanigan said.
Blair kept at it and was able to find his way around the slower cars in the next few laps, opening up a comfortable 1.7-second gap again by the completion of lap 50.
“With a couple [laps] to go, I looked back up at my dad and he told me I was okay,” Blair said. “I figured there must still have been a lapped car in between us, so I just put it in cruise control and got to the end.”
Hess ran a solid race through 50 laps, keeping his No. 44h on the podium for every lap except three in his battle for position with Lanigan and Shane Clanton.
“Lapped traffic slowed Max up and let us all catch up to where I thought we might have a shot,” Hess said. “But I was a little used-up at the end. I was able to hold everybody else off and hold onto that third, so it worked out well.”
Blair’s only previous World of Outlaws win came at the McKean County Raceway back on June 20, 2017.
Feature (50 Laps) 1. 111-Max Blair [$10,000]; 2. 29-Darrell Lanigan [$5,000]; 3. 44h-Dave Hess [$3,000]; 4. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$2,500]; 5. 1x-Chub Frank [$2,000]; 6. 97-Cade Dillard [$1,700]; 7. 25-Shane Clanton [$1,400]; 8. 9k-Mike Knight [$1,300]; 9. 99B-Boom Briggs [$1,200]; 10. 72-Jason Covert [$1,100]; 11. 7-Ricky Weiss [$1,050]; 12. 18-Chase Junghans [$1,000]; 13. 94-Bryce Davis [$950]; 14. 2v-Chad Valone [$900]; 15. 18m-Mike Wonderling [$850]; 16. 22B-Darrell Bossard [$800]; 17. 40-Dutch Davies [$770]; 18. 28-Dennis Erb [$750]; 19. B22-Bump Hedman [$730]; 20. O-Ryan Scott [$700]; 21. B1-Brent Larson [$700]; 22. 1j-Jake Finnerty [$700]; 23. 4s-David Scott [$700]; 24. 77-Tyler Dietz [$700] Hard Charger: 2v-Chad Valone[+7]